Total distance – 3.6 Kilometres
Ascent – 40 metres
Walking conditions – Well-defined footpaths, tracks and tarmac roads. Buggy compatible. No difficulties.
Time required – 1 to 2 hours
Nearest town – Glasgow
Pollok Country Park is the home to the Burrell Collection. So you might think that as the Burrell Collection is closed to the public until 2020, that there’s no point visiting Pollok Country Park. Well think again! It’s a great park with numerous paths and tracks, a great play-park, not to mention Pollok House. It’s particularly good if you have very small children with the buggy being the preferred mode of transport. All marked walking routes are buggy compatible and there are three of them. These walks are defined as the yellow route (0.7 miles), the blue route (1.4 miles) and the red route (1.9 miles). As there are a series of tarmac paths and dirt footpaths it’s really entirely up to you to wander about where you like.
On our particular recent day out we parked in the car park to the rear of Pollok House. We then walked along the tarmac road in a north-westerly direction then pretty much went the way of the red path. We stopped and had our sandwiches in the play-park across from the building that hosts the Burrell Collection. I demonstrated how to use a trampoline to best effect, then we made our way back to the car-park at Pollok House.
Total distance – 6.2 Kilometres
Ascent – 200 metres
Walking conditions – Grassy and dirt footpaths which can be quite muddy in places. Some walking along single track roads (little or no traffic). No difficulties.
Time required – 2.5 to 3.5 hours
Nearest town – Lesmahagow
Make sure you’ve got a map and compass for this one, just in case you make a navigational error in the wooded area.
Douglas is home to the distinguished Cameronians Regiment, which after almost 300 years of service was disbanded in 1968. Renowned for their extremely fast marching pace, the Cameronians could have easily completed the 6.2 Kilometre Douglas Circuit in full kit within the hour. However, I’d have to say that in such beautiful, green, rolling landscape with a number of seats and picnic benches along the way, I’d recommend that you stroll around the route at a leisurely pace, eat your sandwiches at Castle Dangerous and enjoy the fresh air. Unfortunately for the Cameronians undertaking a forced march, the options of sandwiches and picnic benches would probably not have been available to them.
Driving into Douglas follow the parking signs and park at Douglas Valley Church. Start the route by walking past the church on the left hand side and then go down the stairs. Then walk over to St. Brides Church and a football field should come into view on the lower ground. You’ll see an opening onto the football field next to the tree line with a blue footbridge about 400 metres beyond, which is where you’re heading. The footpath is quite faint over this grassy field. Once you’re over the bridge the path is more distinct and heads up towards the forest on the high ground. When your in the wood keep to the footpath on the right. It soon turns into a wider forest track. After about 350 metres take the path veering right. The track then goes straight for about one Kilometre then a sharp right takes you downhill, past Gardens House, over a bridge and on to Castle Dangerous. Keep walking and you’ll see the Cameronians memorial as well as the Stable Lake on your right hand side as you make your way back to the car park.
Total distance – 11.9 Kilometres
Ascent – 390 metres
Walking conditions – Well-defined footpaths, tracks and pavements. No difficulties.
Time required – 3.5 to 5.5 hours
Nearest town – Drymen
It was summer 1993 and an attempt by me and two friends to complete the West Highland Way. At the end of Day 1, we set up camp in Balmaha (camping there was entirely legal in those days). At that point, I was unaware that my friends had decided that they’d had enough of the West Highland Way and were hatching a plan to abandon me in the very near future. On the morning of Day 3, they did exactly that and jumped on the boat over to Ardlui. I carried on regardless. Despite the betrayal, I remember the whole episode with a bemused fondness. Twenty or so years layer, I thought that I’d take my wife and kids on part of that route. Was I abandoned on this occasion? No chance! I had the car keys.
A bus is required for this outing to save you having to walk all the way back. Buses between Drymen and Balmaha operate every couple of hours during the daytime, and it’s entirely up to you whether you want to start the walk from either Drymen or Balmaha. Most people would agree that the more enjoyable way is starting from Drymen. But be careful, if you do start from Drymen you’ll need to be sure that the kids will have enough energy after walking about 8 Kilometres to ascend almost to the top of Conic Hill before dropping down to Balmaha.
From the bus stop in the centre of Drymen walk on the path beside the B858 going east for around a Kilometre before turning left on to the dirt footpath that is clearly signposted as part of the West Highland Way. Indeed, from here on as you’re on the West Highland Way, the whole route is clearly signposted. For the next few Kilometres or so you’ll be walking on dirt footpaths and forest tracks in mostly wooded wooded areas and then onto open ground. At the 8 Kilometre point you will come to a bridge over the Burn of Mar which is at the foot of Conic Hill. From here it’s pretty much an unrelenting 200 metre ascent to almost the top of Conic Hill. The path skirts to the right past the summit missing out the last 30 metre ascent. However, if you’ve still got the energy, getting to the top of Conic Hill is absolutely worth it. Keep on the path and head straight back down to the car park at Balmaha. Here you’ll find an excellent visitor centre and if you cross the road you can feed the ducks in Loch Lomond or nip into the Oak Tree Inn for refreshments.